Colossians 3:1-4 ESV
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
When the world around us is going crazy, and things are not normal like they used to be, and we don’t know from one day to the next what changes are going to happen in our lives, it can be very unsettling. And, we may be tempted to focus our thoughts on our circumstances and to let fear overtake us, especially since fear is being propagated daily in the news.
Now, this is interesting. This morning, right before I began writing this, a friend of mine shared with me a picture one of her children had drawn. The picture was of a lion in between what looked like a bear and a tiger. And, the lyrics to this song, “Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!” came to mind. It is a quote from song lyrics in the movie, “The Wizard of Oz” (1).
The movie has themes in it I would not recommend, as it deals with witches, but as I thought about this song, I began to see parallels between what Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion faced on their journey with what we face on our journey as Christians. For they had a wicked witch against them all the way, and we have Satan against us, trying to destroy us, as their witch tried to destroy them.
It was fearful for them, but one situation after another where the wicked witch tried to destroy their lives and to hinder them on their journey, they conquered their fears and they chose to walk with courage, instead. For, they had a destination in mind where they were headed, and so they pursued that destination, and they did not let the witch deter them.
And, that is the kind of determination we must have, as followers of Jesus Christ. Our destination is eternal life with God in glory, and our daily journey is our walk of faith with Jesus Christ. And, Satan tries all kinds of things to try to distract us, to hinder us, and to get us discouraged and afraid, for he hopes we will give up. But we must persevere in the power of God and not let fear overtake us.
We must set our minds, thus, on things above and not on the things of this earth which are unpredictable right now. We must set our minds on things which are eternal, not on the things of this earth which are definitely passing away. For, all that we have here is temporary, and most of it has little to no value regarding God’s eternal kingdom. So, we need to be seeking after what has eternal value, and what is going to make a difference in people’s lives for eternity, rather than to focus on the stuff of this world.
Colossians 3:5-11 ESV
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.”
We, as followers of Jesus Christ, are not to live in sin like we did before we put our faith in Jesus Christ. We are to no longer walk according to our flesh, but we are to walk according to the Spirit of God, in holiness and purity. So, these types of things mentioned here should not be a part of our lives. These should not be what we practice.
Nonetheless, there are many people who call themselves Christians who are still walking in the ways of the flesh, living to gratify the sinful cravings of their flesh. And, they are involved in sexual immorality, and they are committing adultery against God and against their spouses. Yet, they will claim they love God and that they love their spouses, but love does no harm to its neighbor. Love prefers what God prefers, not what the flesh craves.
Many of these who are claiming faith in Jesus Christ, while still living in sin, do so without conscience, too. For, they have been convinced that they no longer need to feel guilty for their sin, since they believe God forgave them and now his grace covers over all their sin, so their sin no longer matters to God. But that is a lie from Satan. For, the Bible teaches that if we walk according to the flesh that we will die in our sins (Rom. 8:1-17).
So, this is an insult to God. It is like sinning right in God’s face, showing our Lord enormous dishonor and disrespect. It is choosing the way of wickedness rather than the way of righteousness, and it is like putting Jesus to death all over again. It is an affront to our Lord’s divine character and righteousness and to his blood shed on a cross for our sins so that we can be delivered out of our slavery to sin, not so we can continue in it without guilt.
If we continue living in sin after we claim to have faith in Jesus Christ, and if we commit adultery, and we slander others, and we hold anger in our hearts toward others, and so we go about getting even with them for what we think they did to wrong us, and then we cover-up our sins with lies, then that is not only insulting God’s grace to us, but it is treating others with hate and contempt, and that is definitely not love, and it is not how we are to live.
For, Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. Thus, by the Spirit we are to be putting off our old self, which is given over to deceitful desires, and we are to be being renewed in mind of the Spirit of God, and we are to be putting on our new self in Christ Jesus, and walking in obedience to his commands (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; Lu. 9:23-26).
Colossians 3:12-17 ESV
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
And, this is how we are to live, as followers of Jesus Christ. We aren’t to be slaves any more to sin, but we are now to be slaves of righteousness. We are not to live to gratify the sinful cravings of the flesh, but we are to live to the glory of God in purity and holiness. We aren’t supposed to be those who do harm to others, but we are to be those who do them good.
But if we are the recipients of actions towards ourselves which are driven by hate, lust, greed, jealousy, resentment, and bitterness, etc., and we have been hurt by others’ sins against us, we need to forgive them. But forgiveness is not permission to keep on sinning, nor does it look the other way and ignore continued sin. True forgiveness is going to care enough about those who have sinned against us to help them out of their slavery to sin.
So, true forgiveness is going to confront sin, it is going to call for repentance, it is going to warn of judgment, it is going to teach obedience to Christ, and it is going to encourage holiness and righteous living. For, that is how Jesus forgives.
He says, “Go and sin no more.” He doesn’t say, “Ok, now that you are forgiven you can sin as much as you want, and you no longer have to feel guilty about it.” True love, and true forgiveness will seek the good of the offending party and will work toward their ultimate healing.
So, let’s be those who encourage one another to holy living, and who help one another out of slavery to sin, and let’s not be those who coddle people in their sins just to make them feel good. Admonishing one another in Christ is love. Pampering people in their sin is not love. It is selfishness.
When I Go Home
By G. M. Eldridge
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes…” Revelation 21:4
In the moment He appears
And the light from heaven shines,
I’ll forget ev’ry fear,
Ev’ry pain I’ll leave behind.
Then I’ll see Him as He is
And I’ll know Him as I’m known.
Ev’ry tear wiped away when I go home.
Ever present is the tho’t
That a moment waits for me
When unworthy as I am,
His glory I will see.
I will empty all my praise
Before my Father’s throne.
Ev’ry tear wiped away when I go home.
If the trial I endure,
And your presence I can’t find,
Be near me, Lord, I pray,
Bring back unto my mind
That your promises are firm
And I’m never on my own.
Ev’ry tear wiped away when I go home.
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